Have stove; will travel
Spare a thought for our ancestors. No ready-made Woolies dinners for them. For a decent meal you had to grab your club and head out to catch a woolly mammoth.
Cooking was no easy task either: Find two pieces of flint… bash them together… hope they make a spark…(hope you don’t bash your thumb)… hope that spark sets your kindling on fire…
How Stone Age man would have envied our portable camping stoves, which allow us to cook anywhere, anytime (although preparing a woolly tusker leg on a Bleuet stove would have been a challenge).
Whether you’re a hiker or keen camper, a good camp stove is indispensable. So, if you’re gearing up for your next trip, read this month’s feature.
You might also have noticed that each month we feature an item on my “wishlist”, basically some special outdoor equipment or clothing that I’d really, really like to get my hands on. Part of it is about having fun (like dreaming about owning a Ferrari), but, more importantly, it’s also our chance to show you the latest gear out there.
If you have any items on your wishlist, let us know so we can feature them too.
The first thing you buy for camp cooking is usually a good old-fashioned LPG gas cylinder. Domestic gas cylinders – Cadac, Alva and Totai – all use the same-sized valve, which means you can freely mix and match accessories (just like Paris Hilton would). Here’s a look at four options…
Kellerman cooker top
You’ve got a bond on your house, a Citi Golf that’s nearly paid off and your own tent. Now all you need is a basic but reliable camping stove – the old screw-in cooker top.
It’s cheap; it’s easy to use; it’s small (about the size of a frisbee); and it provides a potent cooking flame. You vary the heat either by turning the key (on older gas cylinders) or the control knob (on the newer ones).
On the downside, the smooth metal cooker top provides very little grip for the base of the pot.
Contact: Campworld 012 797 7358; www.campworld.co.za
Go! says: Basic is often the best.
Kellermann two-burner stove
This shiny stainless steel cooker from Kellermann is just the thing for house-proud camp commanders.
It’s easy to clean, and each burner has an auto-igniting click start (so it won’t matter if you drop the matches in the dish water).
Another great feature is the self-adjusting enamel pot support, which is spring-loaded so that it always fits snugly round the base of a pot or pan.
On a cautionary note, it is larger than other two-burner camping stoves (74x40cm), so this is not a good choice if you’re trying to cram everything into the boot of a Kia Picanto.
Contact: Campworld 012 797 7358; www.campworld.co.za
Go! says: You’ll need to buy a gas hose and regulator; they’re not supplied with the stove. The hose costs about R10 a metre and the regulator about R100 at gas service centres.
LK’s two-burner boiling table
This cast-iron invention has been the stalwart of school bazaars for years. It’s the Land Cruiser of camping stove tops: no frills, but supremely solid and reliable. (Okay, maybe not quite Land Cruiser). You will need plenty of packing space to fit this into your trailer, but if you’re cooking for a crowd, it’s worth the schlep.
Price: About R220.
Contact: LK’s Braais and Accessories 021 905 0640; www.lks.co.za
Go! says: Taking a scout troop camping? You also get a three- and a four-burner version.
Iwatani portable butane stove
This compact stove comes in a plastic “suitcase” not much bigger than a Witwatersrand telephone directory and weighs just 1,4 kg. It runs on compressed butane gas, which comes in a 250 g canister that slots inside the case, so no pipes, regulators or clunky external gas cylinder are required. When you’re done, it’s easy to safely disconnect the canister and pack everything up. The burner gives a generous flame, but it can also be fine-tuned for a gentle simmer.
Price: Stove R300; gas canister R40.
Price: Outdoor Warehouse 0800 003 051; www.outdoorwarehouse.co.za
Go! says: At full power, you should get at least 90 minutes’ cooking time from a canister, so make sure you take enough for the whole camping trip.
Time to expand…
With these accessories you can have a whole gas system.
Cadac Dual Extension
The clever twin
This nifty accessory allows you to run a cooker top and a lantern simultaneously off the same gas cylinder. Instead of screwing the stove top directly into the cylinder, you insert the extension arm.
This has two ports: one for the cooker and one for the lantern. Each port has its own control knob, so you can dim the light to a romantic glow while the potatoes are boiling away merrily on high.
Then invest in a Cadac Hi-lite extension arm (0,5 m, 0,7 m or 1,2 m – which costs between R100 and R170) so you can raise the light well above eye level.
Contact: Cadac 011 473 8600; www.cadac.co.za
Go! says: Good ideas don’t have to be complicated.
Alva Amacooka Stand
Hmm, we have to feed meat eaters and vegetarians… and it’s getting dark; we’ll need some light. What the Amacooka stand allows you to do is run three gas appliances off a single gas cylinder. It’s basically a folding metal base with three gas outlet ports. And it doesn’t matter if your gas lantern is a Cadac and your cooker a Kellermann – the mounts are universal, so you can mix and match brands.
Price: About R600.
Contact: Stingray 021 442 1540; www.stingray.co.za
Go! says: This is not suitable for a Kilimanjaro expedition. The stand is best used on flat, solid ground.
A hiker needs a light, efficient stove that will deliver an instant meal in record time. Here are some suggestions...
What kind of fuel does it use?
Most hiking stoves work with a small, light gas cylinder (weighing as little as 220 g). If you’re planning to do the Drakensberg Traverse, however, you might want to invest in a liquid fuel stove (most run on benzine), which is more robust, burns hotter and works better in extremely cold conditions.
Watch that pot. Make sure your pot or pan fits snugly on top of the cooker. There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing your noodles hit the ground when an unsteady billy slips off the cooker.
Stand still! A wobbly base is another sure-fire way to lose your supper. Some stoves come with a special stabiliser base.
How long will it take? The standard measure is the time it takes to boil a litre of water (the fastest stoves clock in at about three minutes).
Break the wind. A stove with a wind shield cooks faster in blustery weather.
Choose a hiking stove:
Esbit Pocket Stove
When folded, this metal stove is about the size of a block of cheese, but opened up it forms a sturdy little support for your pot. It runs on solid fuel tablets (a bit like Blitz for beginners); each tablet burns for 7 – 10 minutes, long enough to get one litre of water to boiling point. The big advantage is that it’s small and light (about 145 g); the disadvantage is that you will have to wait a bit longer for your Milo than with other hiking stoves.
Price: R45 for the cooker and eight tablets; a replacement pack of fuel tablets costs R22.
Contact: Adrenalin Outdoors 021 982 1510; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.adrenalinoutdoors.co.za
Go! says: Want to travel really lightly? Just pack the tablets. You can use rocks to support your pot.
GoSystem Mighty Atom Stove
GoSystem’s little gas cookers have long been firm favourites on hiking trails, and now they come with an additional feature. Instead of having to puncture a hole in the canister to fit your cooker, it is fitted with a screw top. This means you can safely separate the canister from the cooker for storage purposes.
Another handy feature is the automatic ignition – so you won’t ever have to worry about wet matches again. Instead, you simply press the start button to fire up the gas.
Price: R250 for the cooker top and R40 for a 220 g gas canister.
Contact: Cape Union Mart 0860 034 000; www.capeunionmart.co.za
Go! says: It comes with a plastic carry case for safe, easy storage in your pack.
MSR Whisperlite Internationale Stove
Liquid fuel stoves are more expensive than gas stoves, but if you’re a serious hiker it’s worth the outlay because the burner system gives a hot flame in all conditions. An advantage of using benzine or petrol is that it can be found pretty much anywhere, seeing that you may not take gas canisters on a commercial airliner and they’re harder to find in remote places.
Unlike other liquid fuel stoves, this model is quiet and you can control the size of the flame.
Price: R1 220 for the cooker, R160 for a fuel bottle.
Contact: Mountain Mail Order 021 683 6026; www.mountainmailorder.co.za
Go! says: Almost like a Hilux bakkie, it uses practically any kind of fuel.
The Helios is a brand-new product from Jetboil. The kit includes the stove, fuel canister base, connecter pipe and a two-litre pot – and everything fits neatly inside the pot. It’s really fast: A litre of water gets to the boil in just three minutes, thanks to a ring of metal fins that direct the flame to the base of the pot.
The cylinder is mounted upside-down for a constant gas flow, even in very cold weather.
Price: R1 800.
Contact: RAM Mountaineering 021 532 0549; www.rammountain.co.za
Go! says: It’s the best in its class.
How much gas is there in a cylinder?
If you’ve been confused by the numbers on gas cylinders, you’re not the only one. The problem is that there are currently two systems used in South Africa: Cadac… and everything else.
The norm today is for the weight of gas to be printed on the side of the cylinder. Common figures for camping use are 3 kg, 4,5 kg and 7 kg (or thereabouts). This is the system used by Alva, Totai, Kellermann and others.
Cadac, on the other hand, has stuck to its old numbers, with 7, 10 and 15 the most popular for camping. These do not designate weight in kilograms, but are based on the older imperial pound measurement system, so a No 7 is about 3,5 kg, a No 10 is 4,5 kg and a No 15 about 7 kg. (Now you have all the numbers to play the Lotto this week. – Ed.)
You get two types of gas appliance: those that need a high-pressure gas supply and those that need a low-pressure gas supply. All use the same gas cylinders.
Most smaller camping accessories (lamps, cooker tops) are high-pressure appliances. These screw directly into the cylinder and run on the direct flow of gas. Their advantage is that you don’t need any pipes or regulators.
The downside? They use more gas and tend to roar when they’re on.
Larger appliances such as a heater, a multi-burner stove and a braai will need a regulator between the cylinder and the appliance to deliver gas at low pressure. These use less gas, and are much quieter.
(Note: Prices accurate in October 2008)Close